, Volume 42, Issue 11–12, pp 1287–1289 | Cite as

Adaptive optimal sound for vocal communication in tunnels of a subterranean mammal (Spalax ehrenbergi)

  • G. Heth
  • E. Frankenberg
  • E. Nevo
Short Communications


The adaptive value of sound signal characteristics for transmission in the underground tunnel ecotope was tested using tunnels of the solitary territorial subterranean mole rats. We analyzed the propagation of synthetic calls with various frequencies through natural tunnels along different distances. Here we present evidence that sound propagation proved efficient only across short distances (a few meters). The least attenuation of sounds occurred at low frequencies. The 440 Hz sound was transmitted better than the lower (220 Hz) or higher (880, 1760, 3520 Hz) tested frequencies. These characteristics matched perfectly with the mole rat features of vocalization and hearing, thus reflecting the operation of natural selection for adaptive vocal communication in the underground tunnel ecotope.

Key words

Sound transmission underground vocal communication subterranean mole rats 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Heth
    • 1
  • E. Frankenberg
    • 2
  • E. Nevo
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of EvolutionUniversity of HaifaHaifa(Israel)
  2. 2.Nature Reserves AuthorityJerusalem(Israel)

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